#LowCarb Recipe: Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Casserole

So it’s Friday afternoon. I went to the gym this morning for my third work out this week (I’ve been really bad about only going on Mondays for my appointment with my personal trainer, but then not doing anything else for the rest of the week). So I’m working on building better habits and going three days a week. Anyway, it’s Friday afternoon, I’m finished with work for the week, I’ve taken a shower, and I’ve got Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. running on autoplay on Netflix, while checking email and reading blogs. Then, all of a sudden, my stomach starts growling, reminding me that the salad and fruit that I had for lunch was a long time ago. But what to fix? I don’t feel like standing in the kitchen over the stove. I want something with ingredients that are easy to pull together and don’t take much preparation.

And it hits me.

No, literally. As soon as I opened the freezer door, the bag of frozen quartered artichoke hearts falls out and hits me in the chest. And right behind that was a bag of chicken breasts. Perfect. Time to start Googling recipes. I found several, and this is a combination of a couple of different ones. When you look at a recipe and you love all the ingredients separately, you know it’s got to be even yummier once it’s all combined (you know, that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” thing).

Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Casserole
Ingredients:

    Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Casserole Ingredients

  • 12 to 14 ounces artichoke hearts (frozen or canned, not marinated)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup grated cheese (Swiss, Havarti, or other of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thawed if from frozen
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Tools and Utensils:

  • Butter or cooking spray
  • Baking dish or casserole large enough to hold 4 chicken breasts with a little room between (I used my vintage 10×10 Corningware “skillet”—a baking dish with about 2.5″ to 3″ sides)
  • Large bowl
  • Large spoon for mixing, slotted serving spoon
  • 1/4-cup measuring cup
  • 1-teaspoon measuring spoon
  • Cutting board and knife

Directions:
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375°F.

If artichoke hearts are frozen, thaw thoroughly (with this steam-in-bag brand, I ran it in the microwave for 3 minutes. Some pieces were still slightly frozen, but it was mostly all thawed). Drain and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine artichokes, cheeses, mayonnaise, sour cream, nutmeg, and garlic. Add black pepper (but not salt—the parmesan adds a lot of salt) and stir until well combined. Grease baking dish and lay chicken breasts in bottom of the dish, ensuring there’s a little space around each one (though they can be slightly touching—but they’ll cook faster/more evenly if there’s some breathing room in the dish). Season chicken with salt and pepper. Spoon artichoke mixture over chicken breasts and spread until distributed evenly.

Bake uncovered 30 to 35 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If desired, sprinkle top with additional parmesan before serving.

Creamy Chicken and Artichoke Casserole

Creamy Chicken and Artichoke CasseroleWhile it may not look picturesque when plated, OH MY GOODNESS this was SOOOOOOOOOOO good.

You’ll want a slotted spoon for dishing this up—because chicken releases a lot of liquid when it cooks, there is a lot of it in the bottom of the pan.

Nutritional Information:
All of the ingredients are either naturally no- or low-carb. The entire recipe (4 servings) only has 16.4 grams net carbs (32.4 total carbs). So one serving has 4.1 grams net carbs.

When I make this in the future—because this is totally becoming part of my regular repertoire—other ingredients I might try adding (all together or not, depending on my mood): spinach, green chile, chopped water chestnuts, bacon (mmmm . . . bacon), hearts of palm (because I have a couple of jars of them and don’t know what else to do with them), and maybe try different cheeses. Using chopped or canned chicken (or leaving the chicken out) and adding the spinach and water chestnuts would make this a perfect artichoke-spinach dip, too.

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 1 Comment

#LowCarb Recipe: Zucchini Noodles with Artichoke and Tomato Marinade

Yesterday on Facebook, some Canadian friends of mine posted a meme from the Toronto Public Library that said, “Pick up the nearest book to you, turn to page 45. The first sentence explains your love life.” When I picked up the book nearest at hand, here’s what I saw:

First Sentence

Yep, I had a cookbook sitting next to me, since I’ve been meaning to meal plan and pull some new recipes for a while now. Well, ever since reading that, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And since I had everything at home I needed to make my version of the original recipe, I decided to make it for a tasty, vegetarian lunch today.

Zucchini Noodles with Artichoke and Tomato Marinade

Ingredients:20150707_113918

  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup marinade from artichokes
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon liquid from minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoons lemon juice (more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon basil paste
  • 1 medium zucchini (mine was 5 oz.)

Tools and Utensils:20150707_115448

  • Spoon or fork to remove artichokes from jar 😉
  • Measuring cup/spoons
  • Cutting board/mat
  • Sharp chopping knife
  • Grater, mandoline, or spiral vegetable cutter
  • Plastic container or bowl with lid

Directions:
Measure out approximately 1/2 cup of marinated artichoke hearts and chop roughly. Be sure to get the leaves chopped a little more finely—and if you notice any that seem particularly tough, go ahead and pick them out. Add chopped artichokes and 1/4 cup of marinade from jar into bowl. Quarter the tomatoes and finely slice the green onion, and add to bowl. Stir in garlic, liquid from garlic jar, lemon juice, and basil paste.

With your cutting tool of choice—or with a sharp knife—julienne or “noodle” your zucchini. It’s your choice whether you leave the skin on or take it off. Since this is a raw preparation, skinning it might be preferable since some zucchini can have tough or woody skin. If using a spiral vegetable cutter, make several 1/4″ inch slices about half-way into the zucchini every couple of inches—that will make a natural breaking point for your zucchini noodles so that you don’t end up with one massively long strip. Or you can cut them to size later.

Add zucchini to bowl. Cover and shake gently but well enough to ensure marinade coats everything. Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours before eating.

Zucchini Noodles with Artichoke and Tomato Marinade

So yummy—tangy and crunchy, with just a touch of sweetness from the tomatoes. Artichokes have a component that makes everything taste sweeter, too, so while the first couple of bites may seem super tart, give it a moment, and soon the sweetness will shine through as a great counterbalance to it.

This would make a great salad/side-dish for a cookout or picnic during the summer, since nothing in it will spoil by sitting out for a while. And the longer it sits, the tastier it will get!

Nutritional Information:
This makes two lunch-size portions, or four good-sized side dish portions.

For the full recipe: 17.1 grams total carbs minus 8.8 grams fiber = 8.3 net grams carbs
For half the recipe (lunch-size salad portion): 4.2 net grams carbs
For quarter the recipe (side-dish portion): 2.1 net grams carbs

UPDATE:
Because this turned out to be so tasty, I made it again on Wednesday night for lunch on Thursday. This time, instead of using the spiral cutter for the zucchini, I used the fine julienne cutting blade on my mandoline—and I have to say I like the size much better. The spiral cutter gives more of an angel-hair style of cut while the thin julienne blade cut it just slightly thicker than standard spaghetti. I also used a slightly larger zucchini this time, which isn’t a problem since I ended up with so much “juice” left in the bottom of the container when I finished the first dish of it.

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 7 Comments

When Lamb Is Cheaper than Beef (Updated)

Original Post:
image

So, I picked up this gorgeous 2.2 lb boneless leg of lamb roast at Costco this morning. I also picked up a tub of tzatziki sauce/dip and marinated the lamb in it for a couple of hours. Now I’m just waiting for the oven to preheat to 450. I’ll put it in to sear for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325 and continue cooking for about 25 minutes (20 minutes per pound is recommended for medium rare). Will post again when it comes out!

Update:

Finished Lamb Roast

I figured since I’m about to finish this off tonight (with roasted asparagus dressed with lemon, butter, and garlic), it was well past time for me to update the original post with the results.

I ended up having to cook the roast longer than what I’d found online. Cooking it for just 20 minutes per pound produced a very rare piece of meat! (Not even close to the medium rare I was going for.) I think the trick, for next time, is to sear it in my new-hand-me-down cast iron skillet on the stove first, then roast it in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes per pound. Trying to get a sear by doing it for 15 minutes at 450 degrees didn’t work very well.

However, that said, it was quite tasty—though needed salt when finished. Everything I read said not to salt it before cooking, as the meat would dry out. But next time, I’m going to try a good sprinkling of kosher salt on the exterior after taking it out of the marinade.

In addition to eating it sliced, as above, I also fixed it gyro style: sliced into short, thin strips and heated, then wrapped in a low-carb tortilla with tzatziki, diced tomato, and thinly sliced sweet onion.

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | Comments Off on When Lamb Is Cheaper than Beef (Updated)

When Lamb Is Cheaper than Beef

image

So, I picked up this gorgeous 2.2 lb boneless leg of lamb roast at Costco this morning. I also picked up a tub of tzatziki sauce/dip and marinated the lamb in it for a couple of hours. Now I’m just waiting for the oven to preheat to 450. I’ll put it in to sear for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325 and continue cooking for about 25 minutes (20 minutes per pound is recommended for medium rare). Will post again when it comes out!

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 1 Comment

#LowCarbRecipe: Easy Beef Stroganoff (with Green Beans)

I was in a rush last night and needed something quick and hearty that I could make for lunches the rest of this week and next (the last two weeks I’ll be working in an office—starting June 8, I’ll be working from home and will hopefully have a lot more time to cook and try new recipes!). So I pulled open the fridge and freezer to see what I had on hand that would cook up quick and easy and be super tasty.

Beef Stroganoff is something that most of you who grew up in the 1970s, like I did, are going to be somewhat familiar with. Except you’re probably accustomed to having it over egg noodles. Not low-carb friendly. 😦 But there’s a great way to make this with out the noodles—and get a veggie serving in while you’re at it!

Easy Beef Stroganoff with Green Beans
Easy Beef Stroganoff with Green Beans
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup (frozen) chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup*
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 12-ounce steam-in-bag cut green beans (frozen)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

*There are recipes online for home-made, lower-carb substitutes for canned soup. But this is what I had on hand and I wanted something quick.

Tools and Utensils:

  • Deep skillet or wide sauce pan
  • Strainer/colander
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Microwave oven
  • Wooden spoon or heat-safe spatula

Directions:
In skillet over medium to medium-high heat, cook ground beef until almost browned. Drain off fat. Return meat to skillet and reduce heat to medium-low and add onion and garlic powder. Cover and let cook 10 to 15 minutes**, stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked through and onion is soft and translucent.

    **While this is cooking, place the two bags of green beans in the microwave and cook on high 5-6 minutes. They should still have some crunch to them—they’ll continue cooking later.

Add sour cream, soup, cayenne, oregano, and paprika to skillet and stir to combine with meat/onion mixture. Bring to a simmer (you may need to increase the heat to medium if you’re in a time crunch). Add green beans and stir to thoroughly combine. Bring back to a simmer. Taste and season with salt and pepper (you’ll probably need more salt than you realize, but add it in small doses).

Cover and let cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, another 10-15 minutes. Taste and re-season if necessary before serving.

Makes five to six servings. Based on six servings, each serving is 10.7g net carbs.

This is a good basic recipe that you can do lots of different things to. Spice it up with Tony’s or other Cajun/Creole spices. Try curry powder instead of paprika. You can also add different or additional veggies to it—try it with steamed cauliflower or use zucchini noodles instead (just don’t add the zucchini noodles until 2-3 minutes before serving so they don’t get mushy). Add sliced mushrooms. Just don’t forget to calculate your new carb totals for whatever changes you make!

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | Comments Off on #LowCarbRecipe: Easy Beef Stroganoff (with Green Beans)

Everyday Superhero Training

Hey, all! More recipes coming soon. But in the meantime, I’d love to introduce you to my personal trainer, Julian, who has started his own YouTube Channel. I know he intends to post some short videos a couple of times per week to help people get moving and get stronger and healthier (he’s just starting out, so give him a chance to get warmed up). Please check out his channel, Everyday Superhero Training, and subscribe if you like it!

Posted in Activity Report, Low-Carb | Comments Off on Everyday Superhero Training

New kitchen tools!

image

These were sitting in a box on my front porch when I got home tonight. Can’t wait to start using them and trying out new recipes!

Posted in Recipes | Comments Off on New kitchen tools!

#Low-Carb Recipe: Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeno-Popper-Stuffed Chicken

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting recipes that not only bring together some of my favorite flavors, but which put an interesting and unique spin to boring old boneless, skinless chicken meat. For my meal plan this week, I had two large bs-less chicken (yeah, there’s got to be a better way to abbreviate that!) in the freezer. I knew I wanted to do the Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe again, but I also wanted to try something a little different. I’ve been seeing recipes around for jalapeno-popper chicken, so I figured this would be a good time to experiment with it.

This one definitely goes in my top ten—maybe even top five—favorite dishes that I’ve made since I started low-carbing.

Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeno-Popper-Stuffed Chicken
Ingredients for Jalapeno-Popper stuffed ChickenIngredients (2 servings):

  • 1 small to medium jalapeno
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits/crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1 mammoth, or 2 regular/small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 ounces of meat per serving—bs-less thighs would be good for individual pieces)
  • 4 strips uncooked bacon

Tools & Utensils:

  • gallon zip-top plastic bag
  • meat mallet
  • cutting board and sharp knife
  • 1/2 cup measuring cup
  • small bowl
  • table- or soup spoon
  • four toothpicks
  • 8 x 8-inch baking dish (or other medium size pan to hold your finished rolls), foil-lined as usual

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut stem off of jalapeno, then cut pepper in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. For hotter peppers, retain white “ribs”; for milder, remove as much of the white part as possible. Chop into small pieces. In a small bowl, combine softened cream cheese, jalapeno, and bacon bits. Stir until well-combined. Set aside.

Place one piece of chicken in the zip-top bag and, with the smooth side of the meat mallet, pound out to about 1/3-inch thickness.

Chicken Paillards

Remove from bag and spread out, rough-side up, on cutting board or plate (for easier/more sanitary cleanup later). With the spoon you used to stir up the cream cheese mixture, or with your hands if you prefer, spread the cream-cheese mixture all over the inside of the chicken paillard.

Stuffing the Chicken

On another easily cleaned surface, lay four* pieces of bacon side-by-side lengthwise (*two if doing smaller/individual rolls). Roll up the chicken, with the cheese inside. Carefully move the chicken roll to lay across the bacon, so that about an inch or so you can see about an inch or so of bacon above it. Grab those ends and pull up around the chicken and continue to roll until about 1.5 to 2-inches of bacon remain. Take the end of the piece of bacon on the left and pull it around to the side it to cover the left end of the roll. Do the same with the right side. Pull the remaining two pieces up so that their ends overlap the ends of the pieces now covering the sides of the roll. (Sorry I didn’t photograph this process—my hands were a bit greasy at this point.) Secure roll with four toothpicks to make sure the ends of all four pieces of bacon don’t shift.

Finished bacon-wrapped roll.

Bake 22 minutes. Set oven to broil. Broil top for 4 minutes; turn roll over and broil bottom for 4 minutes to crisp up bacon all the way around. Let sit several minutes before serving.

One 2-serving-size Jalapeno-Popper Stuffed Chicken on the left; one 2-serving-size Chicken Cordon Bleu on the right.

One 2-serving-size Jalapeno-Popper Stuffed Chicken on the left; one 2-serving-size Chicken Cordon Bleu on the right.

Carb Count for One Serving:
I used an 8-ounce chicken breast, so I calculated this based on 4 ounces of chicken, two pieces of bacon, and half of the cream-cheese mixture.

Created at FitDay

Created at FitDay

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 1 Comment

#LowCarb Recipe: Roasted Parmesan-Crusted Zucchini

I spend so much time concentrating on finding recipes for and making main dishes that I have to force myself to look for and try recipes for low-carb side dishes. It gets really old just opening up a can of green beans or turnip greens and heating them up in the microwave when I’ve spent a lot of time making something really yummy like lamb or Chicken Cordon Bleu. So when I did my meal planning for this week, I picked several new side-dish recipes to try, and to share as well.

Roasted Parmesan-Crusted Zucchini
Ingredients for Roasted Parmesan-Crusted ZucchiniIngredients (two servings):

  • 1 medium to large zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • Pinch garlic powder (I used about 1/2 of the 1/8 teaspoon measure)
  • Pinch salt
  • Dash ground black pepper (about as much as you would use if you were adding pepper to it on your plate)

Tools & Utensils:

  • Sharp knife/cutting board
  • Large zip-top plastic bag or container large enough to hold zucchini spears
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small bowl
  • Wire cooling rack and baking sheet lined with foil
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil. Set cooling rack on it and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Trim ends of zucchini, and cut lengthwise into eight spears. Put zucchini in zip-top bag or container, add olive oil, and toss until spears are completely coated with oil. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. Lay spears across the rack, then sprinkle with the cheese mixture until each is evenly coated. (As evenly as possible.)

Bake 8 to 10 minutes–until spears are tender but not soggy. Set oven to broil and broil about 3 minutes, until topping is crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately.

#LowCarb Recipe: Roasted Parmesan-Crusted Zucchini

I was only able to eat half of this, along with the lamb I posted the recipe for yesterday, and the zucchini I used was around 7 ounces. The net carbs for the zucchini was about 4.7gnc, and the dry ingredients add about 0.4gnc. So I counted half of the finished product as 2.5g net carbs.

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 2 Comments

#LowCarb Recipe: Greek Yogurt- and Mustard-Marinated Lamb

Lamb is one of my favorite proteins to eat (duck is another—I know, I have very expensive tastes!), and to me, Greek-style flavors seem to go really well with it. So while I’m sure this isn’t authentically Greek (thus my refusal to title this “Greek Marinated Lamb”), it has a flavor that reminds me of one of my favorite cuisines.

Greek Yogurt- and Mustard-Marinated Lamb
Ingredients for Greek Yogurt- and Mustard-Marinated LambIngredients:

  • 1.5 to 2 lbs. lamb shoulder-blade chops
  • 1 5.3–6 ounce cup plain Greek yogurt (I used nonfat because it was available)
  • 1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard (grainy or smooth)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste (probably about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon each)

Tools & Utensils:

  • Large zip-top bag
  • Measuring spoons (teaspoon, tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup measuring cup (I like these, personally, because I can use the same utensil for the quarter cup and the tablespoons of liquids)
  • Large heavy-bottom skillet | OR | broiler pan | OR | grill

Directions:
If lamb is frozen, let thaw in fridge overnight.

In zip-top bag, combine yogurt, mustard, oregano, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Seal bag and moosh around until ingredients are well combined. Add lamb chops and let marinate in the fridge at least two hours, up to overnight.

Preheat cooking method—grill or broiler is up to you to figure out. Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Remove lamb chops from bag and tap to remove excess marinade (it’s thick, so it’ll stick and you want the flavor, but it will also burn, so you want some but not thick gobs of it). When skillet is hot, sear both sides of the chop (1-2 minutes each side. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook 5-6 minutes per side, depending on thickness and desired doneness. I like my lamb medium rare, so a couple minutes of searing and then 4 or 5 minutes per side was perfect.

As with any other meat, let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into it.

Greek Yogurt- and Mustard-Marinated Lamb

The entire marinade recipe has 17.5g net carbs. But less than a quarter of it actually sticks to the meat. I only had three chops to start with, and I had enough marinade for at least four to six more!

Because there was so much leftover/unused marinade, I counted 1.5g net carbs per serving.

It was sooooooooo good. I will definitely be making this again in the future!

Posted in Food Journal, Low-Carb, Recipes | 5 Comments